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James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

February 18

At Luther’s Grave, Wittenberg

By Richard Watson Gilder (1844–1909)

  • Martin Luther, the great reformer, who died on Feb. 18, 1546, was the originator of perhaps the greatest mental and spiritual movement the world has ever seen. He may also be said to be the real creator of the German language as it is now.

  • HERE rests the heart whose throbbing shook the earth!

    High soul of courage, we do owe thee much;

    Thee and thy warrior comrades, who the worth

    Of freedom proved and put it to the touch!

    Because, O Luther, thou the truth didst love,

    And spake the truth out, faced the sceptered lie,

    E’en we, thy unforgetting heirs, may move

    Fearless, erect, unshackled, ’neath the sky.

    Yet at this shrine who doth forever linger

    Shall know not that true freedom Luther won;—

    “Onward,” his spirit points, with lifted finger,

    “Onward lies truth! My work were never done

    If souls by me awakened climbed not higher—

    Ever to seek, and fear not, the celestial fire.”